Arbor has its day at city

August 30, 2010
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In an effort to retain the firm’s jobs and to maintain the city’s declining manufacturing base, Grand Rapids city commissioners granted Renaissance Recovery Zone status to Arbor Gage and Tooling last week — just as the company’s 15-year Renaissance Zone designation is winding down.

The Renaissance Recovery Zone offers the same tax benefits as the nearly tax-exempt Renaissance Zone, except the former is exclusively for the tool-and-die industry. Arbor’s new status is good for five years, if the state admits the company. But City Economic Development Director Kara Wood said the city would review the company’s progress at the end of two years to determine if more years are necessary.

Company President Edward Heerema said that Arbor’s presence in the Ren Zone since 1997 has been a key reason the 32-year-old firm has remained in business during this harsh economic time, when much of the state’s manufacturing work has been shipped overseas. The company’s zone time ends when 2011 comes to a close.

“We are part of a new collaborative being organized by the Michigan Manufacturers Association. There are currently 17 companies from across Michigan interested in forming this group, with the intent of making an application to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for consideration and approval later this summer,” wrote Heerema in a letter to Wood.

Wood said Heerema’s goal is to grow the company and strengthen its presence in the city.

Arbor Gage, 203 Logan St. SW, is a supplier to the automotive, furniture and medical industries. The company employs 26 at an average wage of $21 per hour. Wood said the city would receive about $11,800 per year in income-tax revenue from Arbor employees, if the firm is admitted to the new recovery group. The company’s real and personal property taxes would continue to be exempted.

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